By Liz White, Director
Keep Going! That’s my invitation to all of you as we approach 2021.
Let’s keep going. Let’s keep putting one foot in front of another even when the end is not in sight. Even though the times are difficult, we animal advocates have to work hard because the animals depend on us. Together, I know we will ‘keep going’ and continue to fight animal cruelty and suffering. This is my year-end message.
We all know that 2020 has been a year we can’t wait to leave behind. Not only did COVID-19 wreak havoc with our lives, we saw set-backs for animals like the growing presence of Ag-Gag legislation. Ignorance and fear-mongering continues to influence our politics. Global climate change remains a threat to every species on earth. So what is there to look forward to in 2021? Why should we expect a better year ahead?
We will never give up
I can’t promise a better year, but I can promise you this. I pledge to all of you that I will ‘keep going.’ Every one of my colleagues at Animal Alliance of Canada makes the same pledge. We can’t promise to always win, but we do promise to never give up. You can count on our word because we have been working to protect all animals and the environment since the inception of AAC in 1990.
2020 was our 30th anniversary year, so we’ve been looking back, thinking about our efforts and accomplishments, including the projects where we have not succeeded – not yet. One of those efforts where we have worked so hard involves all matters to do with animals in research. We have had successes, but still the numbers of animals abused and exploited in research is expanding, contrary to what the research community would have us believe. In keeping with our philosophy that animals should not be used in research, we have worked for broad, over-arching changes; as well as incremental steps to ‘reduce the body count’ of animals harmed and killed. What is always clear to us is that we are fighting a powerful opponent. That opponent is the very idea that it’s possible to justify inflicting harm and suffering on animals in the hope that humans might benefit.
We have all seen ads showing someone suffering from a painful disease, followed by a plea to donate to the charity that promises to find a cure. Yet 95% of drugs tested to be safe and effective in animals fail in human clinical trials. There is no explanation as to why such old-style research methods are still being used when there are modern non-animal alternatives – now referred to as “New Approach Methods” – available and in development for much of this research. Loving animals doesn’t mean not loving humans. We ask for a modernized research approach that advances human health and safety without animal use and suffering, to the benefit of us all.
The powerful idea that animal exploitation is defensible is our most prevailing adversary, the idea that loving and caring about humans goes together with a willingness to exploit and harm non-humans. This idea, supported by every government in Canada, by corporations big and small, and most if not all of our prominent educational institutions, is difficult to challenge.
This year-end message is not sounding like a pep-talk, is it? But, in a way, it is. By recognizing how powerful our opposition is, we also recognize that our movement is powerful too. Our numbers and influence are steadily growing. Our voices are being heard more and more. One often over-looked accomplishment during the last decade has been Canada’s new Food Guide, one that finally does not prioritize the business interests of animal agriculture. This alone has the potential to reduce the amount of animal products consumed, preventing the breeding and killing of countless farmed animals. This political achievement would not have been possible even a decade ago.
One of our earliest campaigns is Project Jessie, a program we started to stop the selling of former ‘pet’ dogs and cats from pounds to researchers. We have had successes, but the legislative wins we strive for remain ahead of us. We are so committed to this goal that three years ago we instituted a partner campaign called ‘No Pets in Research’ complementing the work of Project Jessie.
I hope that you will click here to download
a brief history of Project Jessie.
And, most of all, I invite you all to ‘keep going.’ I hope that you will be encouraged by the hard-won victories we have achieved, as we play our role in the ongoing collective effort. Even when we have not ‘yet’ won, we know that we are a thorn in the sides of those who harm animals. Every government, every corporation now knows that when they exploit animals they will be opposed and harried by animal advocates. It was not always this way. But many of you, and people before you, ‘kept going’ when things seemed even more bleak than they do right now.
I, like all of you, hope for a better 2021.
I hope for more justice, safety and compassion for all species, including the non-human animals whom we fight to protect. And, I am encouraged, and hopeful too. I am encouraged by all of you, our steadfast friends. You have fought with us for 30 years. I know you will fight with us for 30 more, and that together, we will keep going.